From the Ground up
We are looking for land to start a farm, but we have no idea where to begin. Any suggestions?
This is probably the most asked question I get on Instagram. While there are a lot of things to consider as you start this process, I wanted to share some thought-starters that may help steer you in the right direction and get you one step closer to your dream life.
I don’t think I am alone when I say that I have wanted to live on a farm since I was a little girl. Growing up, I always rode and boarded my horses at different farms, all of which had their pros and cons. I would take bits and pieces of each farm that I loved and would store them in the back of my mind for this very moment.
I envisioned buying an established piece of property, specifically an old cattle farm. Don't ask me why a cattle farm, but that's what we were working with when we started looking for property. The first thing you need to decide on before you even begin this process is location. Do you mind a 45-minute commute? Where is the closest grocery store? Do you want to have neighbors close by? How are the schools? Depending on your priorities, these are all important questions. Both Drew and I work in downtown Greenville, and that is where our friends and family live, so for us, it was critical that we stayed within 20 minutes (max) of the city. Not only did we not want a long commute, but we also wanted to make sure our friends and family would make the trip to come see us. I love entertaining, so if our people were not willing to make the drive, it was going to be a deal-breaker.
In 2018, we began our search. We ended up finding 40 acres just 15 minutes from downtown and guess what, it used to be a cattle farm! The pastures were luscious and established, and the hills were rolling just right. As soon as we stepped onto the property, we started mapping out the farm and found the perfect place for everything we wanted. However, as anyone in real estate will tell you, manage your expectations, and don't fall too in love with a property until the closing papers are signed. I cannot stress this enough. We ended up getting outbid on what we thought was our dream farm, and we felt defeated. So back to the drawing board we went.
We decided to expand our search and started looking for property farther out of town. Drew stumbled upon a piece of property that was listed about 40 minutes from Greenville, but he saw that the property had a pond on it, so we thought it might be worth checking out. As it turns out, the pond was a lake, and since the property didn't have an address yet, it was listed incorrectly on the map. Instead of 40 minutes outside of town, it was only 5 minutes up the road from the 40 acres we just lost out on. That same day, Drew went out to walk the property, and it was quite the opposite of the cattle farm. The property was made up of dense woods with an overgrown logging road that ran through a small portion of it down to the water. However, it was located on a lake (win) and within our location parameters (win, win), so we were able to look past the 9-acre forest.
After a lot of research on clearing land and establishing pastures, we felt as though we could pull it off. We made an offer and 60 days later, on April 17, 2018, we were the proud owners of Addison Farms.
While I never envisioned buying 9 acres of woods to transform into a farm, that is how our story went and I wouldn't change a thing. About 6 months later, we purchased the land next to us, bringing our farm to a total of roughly 14 acres. When looking for a property, make a list of must-haves: location, budget, size, etc. Then, it is time to figure out your why.
Why are you wanting to start a farm? To care for animals? Build a garden? Become self-sustaining? Figure out your why and let that be your guide while you look for land.
Ideally, you will not have to clear and/or grade your property, because that can be very expensive and time-consuming; however, if all of your other "must-have" boxes are checked, don't let something that can be managed hold you back. On paper, odds are the "perfect" property doesn't exist, but that does not mean you can't make it perfect. Take your time to get it right, and don't rush the process - we're on a 5+ yr plan! You are about to put your heart, soul, and wallet into your farm. Accept where the land is today and let yourself see its potential. Dream big while setting attainable goals, then go make them happen. Days will become weeks and you will look back each year and be amazed at how far you have come.
We've got a long way to go at Addison Farms, but we've learned that a lot of the joy comes from the struggles throughout the journey, and it's pretty rewarding to look back and see how far we've come!